BCO finds ways to make music during pandemic
Twenty-five years after the Buffalo Community Orchestra performed its first concert in 1995, the group found itself in an unanticipated situation when COVID-19 mandates and procedures made it difficult for them to share their love of music with the public.
Like many groups and organizations during 2020, BCO worked hard to adapt and improvise with their rehearsals and concerts.
Kari Hartman, the BCO General Manager, began working closely with the conductor and Board to ensure the proper safety measures were being taken, which would allow the group to continue meeting and making music.
When rehearsals began in September, Hartman and the others had developed a plan to keep all of the musicians and those involved “as safe as possible.”
“Everyone wore masks, instruments had bell covers (which reduces the spreading of droplets), and the stands and chairs were constantly cleaned,” Hartman said. “We even rotated rooms every 30 minutes so the building’s airflow systems could cycle through fresh air.”
Taking an additional safety step, the string, brass, and woodwind sections all rehearsed separately, which decreased the amount of people in one room at a time.
“It felt different not being able to rehearse as a full group,” Hartman said. “But in general, everyone felt safe as possible and were happy to be able to get together and make music.”
When mid-November hit, shutdowns forced the group’s rehearsals to come to an end. This also saw the cancellation of their fall concert, but with a bit of help from technology and some creativity, BCO launched a YouTube channel and presented their November concert virtually. For the holiday season, they put together a special video of past performances for the community to enjoy.
Currently, BCO is taking a break after the board voted to cancel the rehearsals for their March concert. Despite the temporary break, Hartman said there are many ideas being discussed to keep the community involved, and for the group to connect and perform. Having recently been awarded grant money, BCO is able to explore and learn about virtual concerts and recordings, and Zoom rehearsals for the musicians aren’t out of the question, either.
“We’re hoping things might start to change soon, but it’s hard to say,” Hartman said in regard to future in-person rehearsals and concerts. “Outdoor concerts in the spring are a possibility, and with the grant money, we’re able to enjoy the virtual music opportunities. There are ongoing discussions of how to connect with our audience virtually, whether this is in small groups, through our website, or virtually. There are a lot of possibilities.”
For those wanting to enjoy and support local music, BCOMN.org offers the resources to learn more about the community orchestra group, donate, and access their YouTube channel to listen to the performances they’ve uploaded.